Minneapolis (Feb. 28, 2023) – Minneapolis has a lively, growing cocktail scene that rivals any in the nation. From comfy and cozy to upbeat and exciting, there is no shortage of spots that bring their own flair, along with fresh ingredients and exotic flavors, whether you’re imbibing or sober curious.
The most recent bar to open this month comes with a pedigree: Iconic Butcher & the Boar. The highly acclaimed, award-winning Minneapolis restaurant, has come back to life after a pandemic closure with a new North Loop location for its meat and whiskey-centric menu. Its main bar boasts classic cocktails and includes a riff on each with an updated version and a non-alcoholic version, served in its cozy and intimate, eclectic space.
While not an exhaustive list by any means, here’s where to find the coolest cocktails and mocktails in Minneapolis right now:
Young Joni’s back bar is a cozy and quaint speakeasy located off the alleyway of the restaurant. Their alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are an accumulation of delicious teas and ingredients such as black lime, bee pollen and dandelion roots, each offering a unique flavor. Look for the red light in the alley – when it’s on, the bar is open.
Sooki & Mimi
Sooki & Mimi is a Korean-Spanish fusion restaurant with a cozy cocktail lounge located underneath. The vintage turntable and comfy booths add to the overall atmosphere of the lounge. Stick around to taste their selection of unique mocktails, like the Matchube (matcha, macadamia milk, ube and orgreat syrup) or their Spent Fruit (mango, spiced orange habanero shrub).
Well known for its delicious Mediterranean foods and desserts by James Beard Best Pastry Chef 2023 nominee Shawn McKenzie, Cardamom also offers a wide variety of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks in its Walker Art Center digs. Their “Beautiful Things,” drink with cardamom, rose, milk, raspberry and yogurt foam, is a tasty must try.
Owamni, the James Beard Best New Restaurant of 2022, is well known for their use of decolonized ingredients, which adds an even more exciting twist on their drinks. They offer a variety of non-alcoholic choices, along with Indigenous-sourced beer and wine, but their zero-proof cocktails are the real showstoppers. With ingredients like roasted squash and juniper berry, each drink is unique to the region. Enjoying these beverages in their Mississippi River-adjacent park location, which also is a sacred place to the Native Americans who called this place home for thousands of years, adds to the experience.
Earl Giles is prized locally for their high-quality spirits, elixirs and wonderful refurbished warehouse vibe. This large, yet cozy distillery is equipped with large windows, too-many-to-count living plants and comfortable seating, perfect for a relaxing outing. With a huge selection of drinks, you’ll get a first-hand taste of their handcrafted specialty mixes from the in-house Drinks Apothecary, including Earl Giles syrups, On the Fly cocktail elixirs and more.
Sanjusan’s Japanese Italian flavor fusion will draw you in and you’ll likely want to stay and enjoy the boisterous atmosphere. The bar offers an extensive menu, including classic cocktails with a Japanese twist that makes them stand out from the crowd, like the Sanjusan Old Fashioned, with infused Japanese whisky with kombu and dulse.
Gori Gori Peku
Housed across from Sanjusan, this Japanese whisky bar is dark and intimate, and cozy and welcoming. Ranging from premium Japanese whisky, to wine, sake and much more, many cocktails at Gori Gori include handcrafted, engraved ice cubes.
Spoon and Stable
This chic North Loop dining spot has a top notch beverage program. James Beard award winner Gavin Kaysen’s restaurant can be a hard reservation to get, but you can often walk in for a seat at the bar and watch Jessi Pollak, U.S. Bartender of the Year, and her team work their magic.
Billy After Dark
This Instagram-friendly speakeasy recently opened underneath the restaurant Billy Sushi. Its atmosphere is hard to beat, offering a cool and fun new place that gets visits from A-list celebrities. Billy After Dark offers a large selection of funky and tasty drinks. The bar also includes a Japanese whisky wall that showcases some of the hardest labels to find, including one of the three completed collections of the Ichiro’s Malt line of Chichibu.
Named as one of the New York Times top 50 restaurants, Petite Leon has great food and, perhaps, even better cocktails. While they pull you in with the large selection of classic cocktails, the intimate neighborhood spot invites you to try several of their unique flavors. A must-try is their “Brawndo,” a spicy mix of tequila, orange, lime, habanero and avocado.
Get ready to be transported to a tropical resort once you enter Northeast Minneapolis’ Hai Hai. Enjoy the lively, colorful and relaxed atmosphere at chef, owner and current James Beard Best Chef: Midwest nominee Christina Nguyen’s dining room. All the cocktails are mixed with hand-crafted exotic ingredients to create a medley of smooth and subtle flavors that pair perfectly with the Vietnamese street food.
Take a glance into the Gothic era when stepping into Constantine. Located in the Hotel Ivy, Constantine is a subterranean speakeasy, bar and gastropub. With stained glass windows, dark leather booths and candle-lit vibes, the intimate and old school atmosphere provides the perfect environment to enjoy their craft cocktails and creative mixology.
Honorable Mentions You Should Check Out in Minneapolis:
Marigold Bottle Shop
Despite not being a restaurant or bar, Marigold is the first bottle shop in Minneapolis, and in Minnesota, dedicated to selling high quality and tasty “NA” beverages, many of which are made locally, like their Phony Negroni, Ruby Rose and Three Spirit Social Elixir.
Umbra’s handcrafted “Faux tails,” which are as refreshing as they are tasty, are sweet beverages made with fresh fruits and ingredients at the Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District hotel’s lofty lobby bar.
Read more about cocktails and mocktails in Minneapolis at www.minneapolis.org.
PHOTO: Mocktails available at Owamni by the Sioux Chef. Photo by Heidi Ehalt.
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